Ganivet, Idearium Essay Example
Ganivet, Idearium Essay Example

Ganivet, Idearium Essay Example

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  • Published: September 24, 2017
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Angel Ganivet was an innovative writer and thinker who had a significant impact on his contemporaries and the development of the essay in Spain. Sadly, his suicide at the age of 32 cut short his potential. Despite his limited number of publications, Ganivet challenges established generic borders and experiments with traditional definitions. He blends the essay and epistolary form in "Cartas finlandesas" (1898) and "El porvenir de Espana" (1912), while his second posthumous work, "Hombres del norte" (1905), takes on a hybrid form of a travel essay and social commentary. Ganivet had a unique perspective as an outsider, scrutinizing Spain from his diplomatic residences in Finland and Belgium and offering critiques on European culture as a Spaniard with connections to Africa and Latin America.

Ganivet's most well-known essay, Spain: An Interpretation (1897), presents a fresh perspective on Spain's history and future, breaking away from the ra


tionalist, scientific approach of the time. His work includes multiple conflicting viewpoints and arguments, showcasing the tension prevalent in both Spain and the world during the shift from traditional to modern society. Ganivet integrates terms and arguments from 19th-century debates on various topics such as Catholicism, positivism, imperialism, and rationalism, creating a complex discourse that challenges and redefines tradition and introduces new modes of thinking. In Spain: An Interpretation, the speaker initially adopts a positivist approach to categorize nations based on their geographic identification as islands, peninsulas, or continents, but later critiques this classification by emphasizing that Spain (a peninsula) has mistakenly adopted characteristics of an island nation. Additionally, while employing the concept of historical determinism pervasive during the 19th century, the speaker ultimately subverts it by suggesting that Spain's past

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was a deviation, an error from its true identity.

The present confronts the past as an alien other and does not naturally develop or mirror it. Ganivet's texts demonstrate a disjunctive perspective on history, characterized by violent shifts and discontinuity. This viewpoint aligns with a rejection of rationalism and an embrace of a style that avoids logical idea development and clear thought exposition. His essays prioritize a nonlinear presentation, lacking a clear statement of intent and featuring frequent changes in topic without prior explanation.

Idearium espanol lacks clear titles or section divisions. The author values "round ideas" over "sharp ideas," which are rigid and lead to conflict. Round ideas allow for the fusion of opposites, creating opportunities for love and union. Accepting contradictions produces texts that challenge definition and require an open mind. Ganivet's essays intentionally incorporate irrationalism and shifts in position, defying attempts to define his ideology. Some readers see his rejection of positivism, capitalism, and pure reason as an antirational position bordering on fascism, reflecting the failure of the Enlightenment in Spain.

Ganivet's rejection of logic that justifies injustice and capitalism promoting war can be interpreted as a response to the crisis of modernity. This crisis is still present in contemporary thought. Ganivet also consistently attacked imperialism and respected different cultures and values, aligning with late 20th-century views. As Cuba fought for independence from Spain, and European imperialist dominance over Asia and Africa showcased Western superiority, Ganivet proposed new forms of leadership that were nonimperialist. In his work Idearium espanol, he argued that a country's greatness does not depend on territorial expansion. Instead, he urged Spain to initiate a new postcolonial order that would

be unparalleled in history.

The speaker employs patriotic language as a means of opposing it, urging individuals to take pride in their country but with a new purpose. Angel Ganivet's essays introduce innovative approaches to thought and composition. His writings resist definite classification, as he rejects conventional rationalist and scientific ideologies of the 19th century. The presentation of concepts follows a circular structure, revisiting earlier notions but with noteworthy albeit subtle modifications. By skillfully entwining established language with contemporary adaptations, Ganivet's essays aim to reshape the past and establish novel forms of cultural harmony.

Mark P. Del Mastro from The Citadel stated that some have referred to Ganivet as a precursor, but he bluntly and unequivocally said that if there was any mutual influence between him and Ganivet, his influence on Ganivet was far greater than the other way around. (Unamuno, Obras completas 4: 955-56, from Salamanca, February 1912) The issue of identifying a single figure as a precursor of literary movements is complex and perhaps even ridiculous.

Throughout the years, defining the "Generation of '98" has posed its own set of difficulties. Angel Ganivet's name emerged as a prominent precursor to the movement at the turn of the 20th century, due to both the commemoration of his death in November 1903 at the Ateneo de Madrid and the publication of his Idearium espanol in August 1897, which sparked critical interest in his works. While some, like Carlos Malagarriga, claimed that Ganivet was the true source of contemporary Spanish intellects, Unamuno disagreed and protested this new focus on Ganivet. Unamuno's own written protests may have contributed to his reputation as the ideological "father" of the noventayochistas remaining

intact. Moreover, En torno al casticismo, which proposed solutions for Spain's social and ideological crises at the end of the century, was one of the first recognized works of the Generation and shared similar principles with the Idearium. As a result, several comparative studies between the two texts emerged.

Unfortunately, Ganivet's doctoral dissertation, Espana filosofica contemporanea, which presented concepts of '98 and was written in 1889, went largely unrecognized. This work has only been compared to ETC in Donald Shaw's book La Generacion del 98, where Shaw deliberately left the comparison open for others to undertake. This analysis aims to seize this opportunity and re-establish Ganivet as a crucial precursor to "La generacion del 98." Unfortunately, comparative studies have been limited as EFC wasn't published until 1930 in Ganivet's Obras completas, leaving critics to question its influence on contemporary Spanish thought, including that of Unamuno's.

It can be questioned how someone can claim the opposite. In May and June of 1891, Ganivet and Unamuno met during the competitive examinations for the Greek chairs at the Universities of Granada and Salamanca. Unamuno himself explains that they conversed daily for about six weeks (Unamuno, Obras completas 4: 954) in Madrid. Despite Ganivet being described as "silencioso de nino y de mozo" (Obras completas 10: 175) during their friendly meetings, Unamuno admits that he did make "observaciones de cuando en cuando" (175). Although Unamuno denies mutual influence, this analysis suggests that Ganivet's ideas strongly impacted Unamuno's thinking, which supports the claim that Ganivet was a precursor to Unamuno's ideas and those of the Generation of 1898. The title, EFC, focuses on the philosophical problem of Spain and its application

to the country's society during that time. Ganivet believed that Spain was in decline because its fragmented and unsuitable philosophical foundation hindered the spread of beneficial ideas.

According to the author, the Spanish adoption of foreign ideologies such as Krausism, positivism, materialism and social Darwinism of Haeckel has resulted in fragmentation and a lack of shared Spanish mission. Ganivet proposes that a system of philosophical education focused on mother or directive ideas, along with a combination of common philosophy and scientific philosophy, can lead to a collective ideological mission for social reform. Common philosophy is a distinct part of the Spanish essence that corresponds to all Spaniards, unlike scientific philosophy or contradictory systems that are external means. (EFC 591, 592, 598, 609).

According to Ganivet, there is an idea that permeates society and forms what we call the environment. This notion is not systematized or organized, nor is it fully understood. It belongs to all men and inspires their lives. It serves as the basis for tradition, customs and ideas that come from the union of people with their surroundings. These ideas and customs are passed down from generation to generation. Ganivet thinks it is important to reform education with this collective ideology in mind. However, he also believes that people overlook this ideology when learning scientific philosophy and its contradictory systems.

The scientific is limited to explanations that stay within the confines of university classrooms or rarely taken books from library shelves. It can only be used by those who understand its specific language and is usually known by a small group of individuals.

According to Ganivet in EFC 593, philosophical frameworks not originating from Spanish society

fall under the category of scientific. Those who adopt such frameworks ignore their common philosophy and consequently fail to achieve collective benefits, motivated instead by egotism. Social institutions worldwide, including those in Spain, are driven by their group's particular interests, referred to as "las ideas particulares" (592) and "interes particular" (612) by Ganivet. It is important to note that these interests are distinct from the previously mentioned "ideas madres."

The mother ideas aim to benefit all Spaniards and represent the harmonious combination of common and scientific philosophies. Conversely, the "ideas particulares" exclusively benefit specific groups and arise from the "divorce" of these two philosophies. The presence of selfishness complements the particular ideas, which hinders the attainment of either the mother ideas or the "grandes ideales" (608). The individual interests of Spaniards motivate them, but they are unable to recognize their common philosophy, which results in them missing the crucial mother ideas. Spain's society is seeking purely external mechanisms or ideas due to the false promise of utopia. Consequently, "indeterminacion" (EFC 611), "la apatia" (602), and "letargo mental" (608) manifest, rendering Spain an "enfermo."

In his work, the author suggests that the influx of foreign ideologies into Spain lead to confusion and apathy among the Spaniards, who become mentally debilitated. This condition is later referred to by the author as "abulia" in a letter to his friend, emphasizing the danger of losing control over one's intelligence and the ability to generate original ideas.

According to Ganivet (Epistolario 26-27), this aversion is commonplace among fools as their limited intelligence prevents them from absorbing a countless number of things. It is also a symptom of abulia or weakened willpower, as

this affliction causes life to regress, unable to overcome laziness that hinders the assimilation of new elements necessary for rejuvenation in line with the passing of time. The cause of the disease is a lack of attention. The origin of this clinical metaphor can be traced back to the late 19th century French psychologist Theodule Armand Ribot, but Ganivet's use of "la abulia" to figuratively diagnose the condition of his country resonates throughout the works of several Generation of '98 writers and contemporaries including Azorin, Baroja, Maeztu, Cajal and Machado. As previously mentioned, Ganivet's solution for treating "abulia" is achieved through the harmonisation of both common and scientific philosophies.

Establishing scientific roots in Spanish tradition and "realidad" is crucial for successful social reform in Spain. This can only be achieved through the union of common philosophy and scientific thought, also known as "ideas directivas". To bring about this union, a Ganivetian "maestro" (EFC 668) must determine how to combine both philosophies for each individual in society. It is the responsibility of the "maestro" to present these foundational ideas to every student, who in turn must trust wholeheartedly in the "maestro's" good intentions and adopt these new ideals without hesitation. The "maestro" must approach this task with pure love, devoid of any personal interest, and maintain an indifferent relationship with their pupils.

The indifference referred to by Ganivet is not the abulic sense, but rather entails unselfishness. It involves individuals de-emphasizing material possessions, rejecting the idea of surpassing their fellow man, and refraining from taking advantage of others. This type of Ganivetian indifference and love ensures that the "maestro" does not intervene with selfish or negative intentions. It

is important for individuals to individually obtain new directive ideas, rather than acquiring generic ideas collectively. If everyone acquires the same ideas, society will once again face a problem with scientific philosophy. All citizens are unique, and therefore their intellectual needs and aptitudes vary. The "maestro" should recognize and cultivate these distinct aptitudes in accordance with Spanish history, tradition, and reality - in other words, with a common philosophy.

In this way, the "maestro" can avoid making the same egotistical mistake as special interest groups by basing their core ideas on Spain's history, traditions, and contemporary reality - which while unique, still contain similarities. Unamuno's ETC runs parallel to EFC and introduces the concept of "la intrahistoria," which is also referred to as "eterna esencia" and "la tradicion eterna." This concept offers a solution for Spain's indecisiveness. According to Unamuno, "That intrahistoric life, silent and continuous like the depths of the sea, is the substance of progress, the true tradition - the eternal tradition - not the false tradition that people often seek buried in books, papers, monuments, or stones." (28)

In a later article, Unamuno expands on his definition, stating that "The eternal tradition is what the seers of every nation must seek in order to rise to the light, making conscious within themselves what in the people is unconscious, in order to guide them better" (29). This echoes Ganivet's philosophy of "intra-historical life" and the "eternal tradition," which both authors believe are vital for society to be guided by the directive ideas expounded by Ganivet. Without these guides, society is misdirected and unable to progress. For Unamuno, "The eternal tradition is the foundation of

human existence itself."

According to Unamuno, one should search for "el hombre" or the essence of humanity within oneself (ETC 30). To progress, one must turn to the eternal tradition, which is the mother of the ideal and is reflected in the future (34). Unamuno, like Ganivet, emphasizes the importance of discovering the "madre del ideal" or guiding idea. This is explained by his concept of "el nimbo," which refers to a continuity that envelops the past and connects it with the future (ETC 60). It can be likened to an ocean of knowledge that unites society's ideas throughout time.

Unamuno refers to the Spaniards' individual efforts to delve inward and discover "la tradicion eterna"/"la intrahistoria" in order to fuse it with their contemporary reality. The author notes that in his time, people fail to achieve the "nimbo" or directive idea as their lives exist in isolation within the "presente momento historico" (ETC 27), which is not connected to the eternal tradition, unlike Ganivet's philosophy that unites the two in a continuum. This "presente momento historico" is comparable to "la superficie del mar, una superficie que se hiela y cristaliza en los libros y registros..."

Like Ganivet, Unamuno expresses that the treatment of history and books is disconnected from man's abiding tradition and fundamental philosophy. They both liken this disconnection to scientific philosophy, which symbolizes the surface of a vast sea, and Unamuno terms it as "tradicion mentira." In Spain, this issue stems from the separation of scientific and common philosophies, which Ganivet previously identified as Spain's primary downfall. However, Unamuno clarifies that the "tradicion eterna," or common philosophy, is disparate from scientific philosophy and integral to

Spanish identity. This sentiment is reflected in EFC 593, where Ganivet's scientific philosophy is also kept apart on library shelves.

When the ideologies are linked, the Unamunian "nimbo" or mother idea emerges. The progressive "intrahistoria" is associated with present reality, following the directive idea. Unamuno disassociates literature (the "intrahistoria") from science (the "presente momento historico"). Egocentrism and "abulia" result from this ideological separation, as recognized by both Unamuno and Ganivet. The Unamunian concepts of egocentrism and love coincide with those of Ganivet. According to both authors, selfishness impedes personal and social reforms by hindering essential ingredient of love.

According to the perspectives of Ganivet and Unamuno, love is a virtuous emotion demonstrated through aiding others and managing self-centered tendencies. If one adopts this notion of ideal love, they will be an effective cooperator in the utopian endeavors put forth by the two authors. Unamuno believes that "El fuerte, el radicalmente fuerte, no puede ser egoista: el que tiene fuerza de sobra, la saca para darla" (ETC 46), emphasizing how strength and power are intertwined with love rather than selfishness. The "maestro" of Ganivet embodies the same notion of being "radicalmente fuerte" as Unamuno, as they both possess an altruistic nature that results in their students' comprehension of fundamental ideas, as previously described through Ganivetian apathy.

Unamuno views love as the key to achieving ideal reform and benefiting the Spanish people as a whole, as it allows individuals to truly connect with "cosas" such as ideas and historical records. These "cosas" are fully understood by accessing the "intrahistoria" and the eternal traditions of the people. Ganivet also sees love as necessary for reconciling common and scientific philosophies, but both

authors observe that the separation of these ideologies has resulted in mental lethargy and abulia in Spain. Ganivet calls this condition "letargo mental" (EFC 608) and "abulia" (Epistolario 26), while Unamuno refers to it as "el marasmo" (ETC 125) and "la abulia" (138). For Unamuno, love bridges the gap between "intrahistoria" and science, highlighting its importance in achieving true progress.

Both authors use clinical metaphors to depict Spain as unwell. Ganivet uses the term "abulia," a medical term coined by a French psychologist, to describe the mentally hampered state of the Spanish people. Meanwhile, Unamuno uses "marasmus" to refer to a physical condition characterized by chronic illness and reduced growth - typical of malnourished children. The advanced stages of marasmus exhibit muscle deterioration and the absence of subcutaneous fat. For Unamuno, Spain's malnourishment is caused by a scarcity of fresh ideas and a lack of internal currents in "our intellectual and moral life; it is a stagnant swamp, not a running spring." (ETC 132). Ganivet, on the other hand, argues that Spain's situation is perpetuated by an excess of non-Spanish ideals that are unsuitable for the country.

According to Unamuno and Ganivet, current ideology is insufficient to revive the country. They both believe that the key step in rehabilitation lies in the association between reality, referred to as "presente momento historico" or "la filosofia cientifica," and "la intrahistoria" or "la filosofia vulgar." However, unlike Ganivet, Unamuno does not suggest that a "maestro" should lead the reform. Instead, he suggests that Spaniards themselves should undertake this social and intellectual process through the critical concept of "europeizacion," which is essential for breaking stagnated Spanish ideas.

According to Ganivet, in addition

to each citizen's efforts to discover their "tradiciones eternas," Spaniards should also Europeanize themselves. By combining their internal discovery process with contemporary European ideas, they can stimulate and enrich their stagnant intellectual current. Ganivet believes that Spain's crisis resulted from the intrusion of foreign ideologies. Consequently, there needs to be a reduction in external influences to favor the dominance of Spanish ideals: "Con el aire de fuera regenero mi sangre, no respirando el que exhalo" (ETC 145).

Spain can only adopt foreign philosophies that align with its current common philosophy. The authors' proposed reforms are most notable for emphasizing this similarity. While Unamuno boasts about his influence on Ganivet during their conversations in Madrid in 1891, it is worth noting that Ganivet may have also influenced Unamuno given their earlier interactions in 1889.

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